Piedra River and HDs, CO Bob Leverett
July 18, 2009


      Attached are some stray images I took when in the San Juans and HD mountains in early July. The first image shows Laura Stransky of the Forest Service standing near an old Ponderosa near the Piedra River. Without someone in a photo for perspective, it is difficult to assess the scale of the forest. In most of the areas I visited in the San Juans that had mature pines, ponderosas exceeding 100 feet were as common as lice on a mountain man. However, at about 120 feet, their numbers drop dramatically. A few pines make it to above 130, and a very few above 140. We only encountered one area with 150-footers. I expect they are fairly rare and that agrees with the Forest Service's experience.
      Our top pine in the Piedra River drainage tops out at 148.5 feet in height. Girths of the largest pines make it to about 10 feet. I expect that if one were to travel on foot a few miles farther up the Piedra River, surprises would be encountered. In fact, there might be some real surprises. It is a pretty wet area. 
       To the south of U.S. 160, the HDs rise as a long stretch of low mountains, comparatively speaking. However, they exude a kind of mystery that calls to some of us. The HDs are drier than the San Juans, so average tree size is not great, at least what I've seen so far Yet I've been told that the HDs hold some big tree surprises. Finding them will be a 2010 objective. Image #2 shows a ridge side on the HDs.
      The third image is of a fairly typical forest scene in the HDs. Girths of conspicuous pines run from 7 to to at most 9 feet. Heights to between 100 and 115. Doug firs are comparable. The total acreage of old growth is being determined,by the Forest Service. It won't break any records, but still may be considerable by most eastern standards.


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